A particularly mad Telegraph col14th October 2019
Have to say, never imagined I’d write a column about worms and a trip to the chemist for a pack of Ovex but life is full of surprises. See below.
I cannot tell you which member of my family the following story applies to because he’d be very embarrassed but my uncle went to the dentist the other day having cracked a tooth. How had he managed that, asked the dentist. My uncle replied that he’d eaten crab the previous evening and bitten down on a piece of shell. This was a fib. He’d eaten lobster, not crab, but in these fraught times of class antagonism, he couldn’t bring himself to say so. ‘Why didn’t he just say a toffee?’ asked my sister, who argued that crab wasn’t much less posh than lobster. Well, we all panic when faced with the authorities, don’t we?
Mum came to stay with me in Norfolk last week and we laughed about this story one evening while eating grouse. She’d brought a brace from the farm shop. The following morning, there was a shriek from the sink as she washed the gravy pan and discovered a thin, blood-red worm flexing itself in the juice. It must have come from the grouse, declared Mum, and I googled the matter to discover that grouse can indeed be riddled with worms. We drove at speed to the nearest chemist where I made my mother ask for a pack of Ovex while I lurked in the corner inspecting face creams. ‘You mustn’t tell them we might have worms from eating grouse,’ I’d hissed in the car. Oh, the shame of it.
Have you suffered a posh injury? A couple of years ago, a doctor warned that avocados should come with a health warning because he’d noticed a sharp rise in patients with sliced palms, having cut into the green flesh while holding them. This revelation didn’t wholly surprise me since a Tatler colleague had recently been rushed to hospital having slashed herself in exactly this manner, but she’d lied to the doctor and claimed to have done it while cutting ‘a fruit.’ ‘Technically an avocado is a fruit, so I wasn’t wrong,’ she insisted afterwards. The hashtag #middleclassinjuries went viral on Twitter around the same time and others shared their tales of woe. One reported a burnt mouth from baked camembert, another a black eye after dropping his iPad on his face. A woman said she tripped over her orchid.
Amusing, yes, but these are all undeniably middle-class accidents and, my journalistic antennae quivering after the lobster and worm debacles, I wanted to uncover grander traumas. I remembered that the Queen Mother was once hospitalised with a fishbone in the throat and Princess Beatrice cut Ed Sheeran’s face with a sword one night during a ‘mock knighting ceremony.’ And yet still I wanted more, so I asked a few friends.
They did not disappoint. One reported winding himself on the wing mirror of Prince Harry’s Audi. My friend Henry, a modern-day Bertie Worcester and keen on shooting, told me that his wife took ‘a cock pheasant to the face’ last weekend which provoked a nose bleed. Someone else said she was almost blinded as a child by a cork from a Pol Roger bottle; another’s brother fell over a lump of Himalayan rock salt while on an Ayurvedic retreat in the Himalayas and broke his ankle. ‘I burst my frenulum with a ruler while I was doing my Latin homework at prep school,’ confessed one particularly unlucky chap, which made me feel much better about the worms. That said, I’m probably never going to eat grouse again.
How many firelighters is too many? I ask because I’m living in this Norfolk house on the edge of the marshes without heating and it’s getting parky. Every afternoon, I head outside to collect an armful of kindling and like to imagine myself picking through twigs in the manner of Bear Grylls. This vision falls down, however, when I return inside and open a box of firelighters. I started with three little cellophane blocks but a friend scolded me for this and said I was being ‘feeble’. She only uses one firelighter, she boasted. I’ve now trained myself down to two. There’s something endearingly primeval about competing over our fire-lighting abilities, as if we don’t all live with efficient thermostats and constant hot water. I’m hoping to graduate to one cellophane block in the coming weeks and from there to pine cones. After that I might start making tea with my own urine and catching sea gulls for my supper.
My hatred for Le Creuset grows. I know, they’re very good for stews and they last forever. But the price! I’m tired of seeing them on everyone’s wedding lists, optimistic brides thinking you’ll cough up £275 for a lilac casserole dish to make her kitchen look pretty. And now comes the news that the French brand has collaborated with Star Wars – the most boring, most over-hyped film franchise in history – to create a Star Wars range of Le Creuset. This includes a £295 Darth Vader Dutch Oven (the big round one) and a Han Solo roaster (the rectangular one) for £360. Plus, a ‘Death Star’ trivet for the table. The announcement was made online with a ludicrously dramatic video announcing that ‘two timeless classics’ had joined for ‘one epic new adventure.’ Please. They’re pots you cook coq au vin in. Let’s not lose our heads. If I ever come to your house for dinner and discover we’re eating something from a dish designed to look like an R2-D2 droid, I’m going straight home.